TB: East remains problem as national levels see marginal increase

Co. Wicklow remains the worst-affected county in Ireland for bovine TB, according to the latest Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine statistics.

The figures – released by the department for the first three quarters of 2018, from January 1 to September 30 – also revealed a marginal increase in the national average in incidence of 0.05% from October 1, 2017, and September 30, 2018.

This figure rose from 3.24% to 3.29% over the time frame. This year to date, some 85,645 of the 113,242 herds in the country have been tested, with 2,815 herds restricted since January.

This compares to 87,253 tested by October 1, 2017, out of a larger figure of 114,986 herds nationally, of which 2,831 went down in testing.

This shows that, while the number of herds restricted actually dropped over the year, it did not drop at the same rate as the number of herds in Ireland overall, leading to a higher proportion.

This is reflected in terms of reactors per 1,000 tests A.P.T. as recorded by the department; to date this year, this number stands at 2.02 – a 0.18 increase compared to the figure of 1.84 recorded at the same period in 2017.

The number of reactors to date has also seen an increase of some 1,053; a total of 13,172 reactors have been recorded as of September 30 this year, compared to 12,119 documented in 2017.

In terms of counties impacted, both Wicklow west and Wicklow east documented high herd incidence percentages.

Wicklow east recorded the highest incidence in the country with a figure of 8.86%, while Wickow west recorded a slightly lower percentage of 8.46% – the third highest figure nationally.

Separating the two was Dublin, which recorded the second highest percentage of 8.86%.

On the other end of the scale, the three counties with the lowest percentage of herd incidence were: Donegal, with 1.42%; Limerick, with 1.72%; and Longford, with an incidence of 1.74%.

Highlighting the problem in the east, the fourth highest percentage recorded in Leinster was Meath, documenting a figure of 5.48%, while all other counties in the province had a herd incidence rate of less than 5%.

In Munster, Cork north recorded the highest percentage of herd incidence, with a figure of 5.45%, with Limerick recording the lowest percentage in the province – 1.72%.

Finally, in the Ulster/Connacht region, Monaghan had by far and away the highest figure, with a recording of 7.26% – in stark contrast with the next highest county of Cavan, on 3.9%.

Further figures will be released later in the year for a clearer picture on TB incidence in 2018 as a whole.